Throughout the history of Rock Music, there have been albums that have polarised fans. In the case of Kiss, that album was ‘The Elder’.
Written by: Explorer
BOOK: The Definitive Examination of Music from The Elder Kiss’ cult-classic concept album
LABEL: KISS FAQ
SERIAL: ISBN 978-0-9822537-8-6
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
WEBLINKS: Kiss Odyssey Book website
Throughout the relative short history of Rock Music, there have of course been albums that have polarised opinion amongst the diehard fans of particular bands. Queen‘s ‘Hot Space’ and David Bowie‘s ‘Low’ are two albums that spring to mind, but there is one album in rock that has, like no other divided opinion on its various merits.
That album is Kiss’ ‘Music From The Elder’. Released in 1981, it saw Kiss going all prog on us and heaven forbid if that wasn’t enough they made it a concept album too! ‘The Elder’ was, in terms of sales somewhat of a disaster as fans dropped the band in droves, but artistically?
Well that’s where the debate begins. Made to satisfy the critics, or a band being lead by a producer who’d just come off the incredible success of Pink Floyd‘s ‘The Wall’? Difficult to tell, but this book goes some way to answering these and many other questions.
This book is a very thorough examination of an album that barely scratched Billboard’s top 100 on release (it actually reached No 75), so to get 535 pages is testament to the authors dedication to duty in that they have managed to come up with so much detail about the world of Kiss in the early 80’s that the mind truly boggles.
Twin authors Tim McPhate and Julian Gill (the latter from the KissFAQ website/podcast) have through diligent and thorough research come up with a truly fascinating insight into, not just the album but the lead up to its recording and the inevitable fall out that resulted. Interviews with pretty much everyone involved, (apart from Kiss themselves, more of that in the summary) and filled with the kind of minutiae that would satisfy the geek in all of us.
They even get to talk to the guy who made the door for the infamous album cover, how’s that for going the full nine yards! No stone is seemingly left unturned in the authors quest to get to the bottom of what was going on in the Kiss organisation in those confused times.
It’s now some 35 years since ‘The Elder’ was released and Kiss fans still debate The Elder’s merits and shortcomings. I for one found the book to be an engaging read and really does expose a band pretty close to implosion.
What I found particularly refreshing is that that no member of Kiss, either past or present were involved in the making of the book and therefore I believe the reader gets a more honest, open account of the happenings of the time.
Rather than the usual Kiss line that the members traipse out whenever they talk about the band, which is why the respective autobiographies by the band are by and large insipid and boring (Paul Stanley’s being the only one that I thought worth reading).
The authors need congratulating on tackling a subject matter that many would question their motives on. This book comes highly recommended and is of course primarily aimed fairly and squarely at Kiss fans, but anyone interested in looking in to the machinations of the working within a band would also do well to seek this out.